16 best movies and series about chess

Chess is one of the most controversial games in our history. Intellectual “table” or a separate sport? A manual for future politicians or just a hobby? After the sensation – the series “Queen’s Move” – ​​interest in the subject has grown significantly. Especially for fans of gambits and endgames, we have compiled a list of the best films and series about chess.

Queen’s Move (TV series 2020)

Where is the line between fanaticism and passion? Profession and lifestyle? A new movie from Netflix is ​​a series about a chess player balancing between drug addiction and craving for the game. Fascinated by the profession, the main character gradually loses touch with reality, for the sake of another victory, refusing both friendship and love. The action takes place in the 60s of the XX century, when the struggle between the American and Soviet systems escalated to the limit. The authors put the heroes before a choice between these worlds – as before the next chess move.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
The Queen’s Gambit

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Anya Taylor-Joy, Mariel Heller, Moses Ingram, Thomas Sangster …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.3, IMDb – 8.6

Age restrictions:
18+


King’s Gambit (2020)

Having not achieved much success in his own career , Mario Martinez became a chess coach for “difficult teenagers”. Carried away by the enthusiasm of “Mr. T”, yesterday’s hooligans began to learn the basics of chess combinations with interest. Soon a strong team gathered, with which Mario is ready to take part in competitions. Rivals – young “cream of society”, from intelligent and wealthy families. But everyone is equal at the chessboard, and the teenagers from the ghetto will finally have a chance to prove themselves.

Original title:
King’s Gambit

Genre:
Fantasy, action, drama, adventure

Actors:
Blake Webb, Rebecca Galarza, Reggie Peters…

Country:
USA

Rating:
IMDb – 6.5


Chess player (2019)

A movie about chess, based on real events, tells about the coach Javier Parmentier and his talented ward. Forced to leave Bangladesh, a promising player finds himself in France, where he meets with a grumpy coach who does not disdain means to achieve a result. Dislike for each other and joint development between the characters go hand in hand here.

Original title:
Fahim

Genre:
Drama, comedy, biography

Actors:
Assad Ahmed, Gerard Depardieu, Mizanur Rahaman …

Country:
France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
6+


Cold Game (2019)

Art, sports, show business, radio – in the second half of the 20th century. everything served as a means of confrontation between the two systems – American and Soviet. Chess, as a metaphor for the struggle between the two worlds, was also used by politicians for their own purposes. In this chess movie, the protagonist is drawn into the world of spy games , becoming a pawn in the Cold War.

Original title:
The Coldest Game

Genre:
Thriller, history, sports

Actors:
Bill Pullman, Lotta Verbeck, James Bloor, Alexei Serebryakov …

Country:
Poland, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.3, IMDb – 6.2


Queen of Katwe (2016)

Fiona Mutezi, born in the slums of the Ugandan city of Katwe, did not have the slightest chance of a bright future. The little girl could neither read nor write, and was doomed to a beggarly existence. However, chance intervened, and Fiona was noticed by the English missionary Robert Katende. It was he who was able to see in the girl a talent for playing chess. The illiterate Fiona Mutesi easily beat even adult opponents and rightfully took her rightful place among the most venerable chess grandmasters. An exciting film about a brilliant young chess player based on real events.

Original title:
Queen of Katwe

Genre:
Drama, Biography, Sports

Actors:
Madina Nalvanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.4

Age Limits :
16+


Pawn Sacrifice (2014)

The Cold War is not only a political confrontation. Both art and sport were involved in the struggle between the two powers. The film tells about the famous chess player Bobby Fischer, who has to overcome mental problems for the sake of the “fight of the century” with the Soviet player. The authors propose to draw an analogy between the conflict between the USSR and the USA and a chess game. Winning this game is like winning a war, but at a very high cost to the participants.

Original title:
Pawn Sacrifice

Genre:
Thriller, drama, biography, sports

Actors:
Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg …

Country:
USA, Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.0

Age restrictions:
16+


Dark Horse (2014)

This film is based on real events in the life of the famous New Zealand chess player Genesis Potini. The protagonist, who lives in a closed community, suffers from bipolar disorder and constantly reflects on the meaning of life . Genesis tries to become a leader by teaching kids in a chess club. He prepares his wards for the national championship. In parallel with this, the grandmaster is constantly working on himself, achieving inner calmness, firmness and determination.

Original title:
The Dark Horse

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Kirk Torrance…

Country:
New Zealand

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Life of a King (2013)

After seventeen years in prison for armed robbery , Eugene Brown’s life changed dramatically. He was left without a livelihood and forced to work as a janitor at a school for difficult teenagers. To keep the guys busy and get rid of their bullying, the hero begins to teach them to play chess. Brown teaches teenagers that in the game, as in life, every move must be weighed and calculated to the smallest detail. After all, for the wrong combination, you can pay not only with freedom, but also with life.

Original title:
Life of a King

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Cuba Gooding Jr., Dennis Haysbert, George Dick…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.9

Age Limits :
12+


Son of Cain (2013)

A film about a young chess player who turns out to be subject to manic tendencies. Perceiving the world and communication with parents as another party, the hero gradually turns into a future killer. When a chessboard becomes the only way to explore the world for an uncommunicative teenager, the father decides to bring in a psychologist to help his son…

Original title:
Fill de Caín

Genre:
Thriller

Actors:
Julio Manrique, Jose Coronado, David Solans …

Country:
Spain

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 6.1


Computer Chess (2013)

Among all films about chess, this one is the most unusual. The authors offer us a story about the first attempts to teach artificial intelligence this game. A group of programmers gather to create the first human-computer chess competition application. Before us is a story about a game that is now installed on almost all mobile devices and made at the intersection of documentary and comedy.

Original title:
Computer Chess

Genre:
Comedy

Actors:
Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 6.3


Game over (TV series 2011)

The game of chess can be called an excellent means of self-development. But can a chess player use the acquired skills in other areas of life? The famous grandmaster Arkady Balagan witnesses the murder of his bride, after which he locks himself in his own hotel room. The lack of funds forces the genius to sign a contract with the police and prove that playing chess is not just a hobby, but a separate way of thinking that helps solve crimes.

Original title:
Endgame

Genre:
Drama, crime

Actors:
Sean Doyle, Torrance Coombs, Patrick Gallagher…

Country:
Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Chess player (2009)

Helen is young and beautiful, but works as a maid in one of the wealthy houses in Corsica. Noticing how a married couple play chess, the heroine discovers a new world. Since then, chess has become Helen’s hobby, but her husband does not like it. First, a woman plays on an electronic board, competing with a computer. After that, she captivates the owner of the house where she works with chess. The girl decides to participate in a chess tournament, but none of the athletes take her seriously. Can the heroine succeed?

Original title:
Joueuse

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Sandrine Bonner, Kevin Kline, Francis Renault…

Country:
France, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Knights of the South Bronx (2005)

The next chess movie takes the viewer to the South Bronx. When Richard Mason is unemployed, it seems to him that his career and life have come to a standstill. A man gets a job as a substitute teacher at a school for difficult teenagers on the outskirts of New York. At first, Richard cannot find a common language with fourth-graders who do not even know how to read and write. Everything changes when Mason brings a chessboard and pieces to class. The game completely fascinates children and awakens in them a craving for knowledge.

Original title:
Knights of the South Bronx

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Ted Danson, Malcolm David Kelly, Keke Palmer …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 6.8

Age Limits :
12+


Luzhin’s Defense (2000)

1920s. An international chess tournament is held in a small Italian town. Alexander Luzhin takes part in the championship. All life for a grandmaster is a chessboard, and the hero compares the behavior of those around him with the moves of pieces on a checkered field. Suddenly, the girl Natalya bursts into the life of a chess player who is closed in herself. She makes Alexander pay attention to the world not connected with chess. Natasha sincerely dreams of helping Luzhin take his mind off the game and live life to the fullest. Psychotherapists come to help the grandmaster, whose recommendations help the hero change his views on the real world.

Original title:
The Luzhin Defense

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
John Turturro, Emily Watson, Geraldine James …

Country:
UK, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:
12+


Game Choice (1993)

This children’s chess movie tells the story of a young American boy, Josh Weitzken. Like all children, Josh loves baseball and other outdoor games. But everything changes dramatically when a love for chess awakens in a child. Sitting at the chessboard for the first time, Josh immediately beats his father.

Parents note the guy’s talent, which manifests itself in chess, and hire a private teacher. They passionately want to raise a world-class chess star out of their son, but this, as it turns out, is a very difficult path. Although Josh loves chess, he is still a child, with his own fun and craving for entertainment.

Original title:
Searching for Bobby Fischer

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Max Pomeranz, Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions:
16+


Queen’s Move (1991)

The events of the film take place on a small island , where a chess tournament is held. The recognized grandmaster Peter Sanderson becomes the leader of the competition. He is fighting for victory in the tournament and is trying to once again confirm his title.

Meanwhile, a young woman is murdered on the island. The criminal throws riddles to the police, solving which, the detectives begin to suspect Peter. Sendersen will have to investigate on his own and find the killer, clearing his name. An unknown maniac offers the hero to play a game in which the stakes are very high – human life.

Original title:
Knight Moves

Genre:
Thriller, drama, crime, detective

Actors:
Christopher Lambert, Diane Lane, Tom Skerritt, Daniel Baldwin…

Country:
Germany, Canada, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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